Stories of Cancer
Giving Voice to Real Experiences

A Hell of a Month

Friday July 2nd

How ironic! I was about to run a workshop entitled Healing the Inner Child, when my GP phoned me quite early in the morning. She had already left me a message saying that she needed to see me the evening before which I’d ignored. I thought it was strange but was fairly unperturbed. However this morning when she repeated her request for me to go and see her and I replied, “sorry but I can’t, I’m running a workshop today” she became quite insistent. “I really need to talk to you and I’d rather not do it over the phone. Could you postpone it?” she said, undaunted. Now I was feeling scared and I told her.

I ran downstairs to find my partner and told him, a note of panic creeping into my voice. As usual he remained calm and collected and told me he would come with me. Hurriedly I got ready and we set off on the 5 minute walk to the surgery.

It was only two days since I had had the ultrasound scan. The nurse who did it had found it hard to get an image and had used an internal “device”. We joked about this as she had to put a condom on it first. She also had told me to make sure I consulted my GP in the next few days, but I hadn’t felt at all alarmed. After all I’d been used to suffering from these symptoms of bloating and pain in my abdomen for years now. It must be IBS made worse by the onset of the menopause and possibly stress of my job, whilst also preparing for some tough exams. Nothing more sinister occurred to me. I’d visited the doctor a few times in the last couple of years as my IBS symptoms had steadily worsened and they had given me tablets which didn’t help much but having quite a high pain threshold and thinking there was nothing else I could do I plodded on with it.

Now I was facing this young doctor who told me immediately I walked in the room that there was a serious problem, “I’m afraid its bad news. We’ve found a large swelling. We can’t tell where it’s attached – it could be your ovaries or bowels. I’m sending you to our local hospital. You should get seen within 14 days. I’m really sorry.” I was in shock, horror, disbelief – I almost felt that I was in suspended animation. Fear was the overriding emotion – how could this be happening to me – I’m fit, quite healthy, just get bad IBS and I’m starting the menopause.

With tears in my eyes I asked the awful question – “are you saying I’ve got cancer?”

I knew from her face that of course that was exactly what she was saying and she couldn’t deny that that was the most likely scenario. No beating about the bush there then although clearly she was upset at having to give me this potentially devastating news.

I left her office in a haze, so many mixed feelings – gratitude for her youthful zeal in sending me for a scan when her more experienced colleagues had been less interested or suspicious of my symptoms, terrified, and also partly reassured that I would be seen quickly at the hospital where I would get a CT scan and blood test.

We left in shock, hardly speaking and then I remembered that my workshop was due to start in about 40 minutes. It had to be cancelled and I didn’t feel up to talking to anyone at that time. So Mark rang everyone telling them I had a stomach upset! It was a lovely summer’s day and I knew I had to get out from the city into nature somehow as that is my usual place of comfort and solace. Now I needed to do some healing of my own poor little inner child who was absolutely terrified. She certainly needed to be cared for and protected from this horror.

We went to a local country park that is one of my favourite places and made some phone calls to a few close friends. I needed support and although the diagnosis wasn’t certain it looked pretty bleak and I wanted my close friends and family to know what I was facing.

It was sunny and I managed to distract myself a little by feeding the ducks and geese and cooing over their little fluffy babies who came up to mob us for seeds. The day passed and I managed to somehow hold myself together for my two sons as I didn’t want to tell them yet until I knew more.

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